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BFS issues new guidelines recommending limited use of PGS

16 June 2008
Appeared in BioNews 462

The British Fertility Society (BFS) has issued new guidelines for the use of PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) in patients undergoing fertility treatment. The new guidelines, published in the journal Human Fertility, state that there is no evidence that PGS improves pregnancy rates or decreases miscarriage rates for women over the age of 35. They suggest it should only be offered to patients in the setting of a robust clinical trial.

PGS involves removing a single cell from an IVF embryo and testing it for the presence of chromosome aneuploidies - genetic errors involving excess numbers of a particular chromosome (which are normally in pairs) that would prevent normal embryo development. Only embryos with the correct number of chromosomes are subsequently implanted back into the womb. It has previously been suggested that the technique increases success rates for IVF in women aged over 35, or those who have suffered repeated IVF failure or recurrent miscarriage. The new guidelines were issued after a thorough review of the published research into the use of PGS. They state that clinical trials carried out to date show that live birth rates may be significantly reduced following PGS treatment. PGS is distinct from PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis), where embryos are screened for a specific genetic disorder, and the guidelines do not discourage the use of PGD.

It is possible that PGS may be beneficial under certain circumstances, for example where the number of embryos replaced is strictly limited. However, there is no data as yet to support this. The guidelines recommend that clinicians should inform their patients that there is no evidence that PGS improves their likelihood of becoming pregnant and in some cases may result in a reduced chance of pregnancy.

The use of PGS is licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), and currently under 200 women per year receive the treatment. Commenting on the new guidelines, Professor Richard Anderson, from the Centre for Reproductive Biology at the University of Edinburgh and author of the BFS guidelines said that 'there is now an urgent need for further research on PGS to assess both its safety and efficiency in treating a range of patients'.

18 January 2016 - by Heidi Mertes, Sjoerd Repping & Guido de Wert 
Under the auspices of the Virtual Academy of Genetics, COGEN recently issued a 'consensus statement' on preimplantation genetic screening, based on a scientific meeting held in Paris last September...
27 October 2008 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
UK scientists have developed a new screening technique that could allow prospective parents to test their IVF embryos for any known genetic disease. The test, dubbed 'a genetic MoT', would cost just £1500 and could be available by next year pending licensing by the Human Fertilisation and...
21 July 2008 - by Alison Cranage 
The use of DNA chip (microarray) technology in embryo screening is to be investigated by an ethics task force from the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). The technology has the potential to screen IVF embryos, in order to improve fertility treatment success rates. In...
17 July 2007 - by Dr Alan Thornhill 
Embryo selection following cleavage stage embryo biopsy and chromosome analysis to identify aneuploid embryos (those which have an abnormal number of chromosomes) in every couple having IVF/ICSI or all women of advanced maternal age is rightly considered by most clinics to be too invasive and potentially damaging for routine...
10 July 2007 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
A technique used to select IVF embryos most likely to implant and develop could actually reduce success rates, according to a study by Dutch researchers. Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) involves removing a single cell from an IVF embryo and testing it for the presence of chromosome...
4 December 2006 - by Paul Scriven 
Make a habit of two things - to help, or at least to do no harm' (Attr Hippokrates of Kos). The principle of preimplantation testing for sporadic chromosome aneuploidy (preimplantation genetic screening, PGS) to improve the reproductive efficiency of assisted conception for couples at increased risk is a sound one. It...
20 November 2006 - by Professor Alan Handyside 
Ten years since the first reports of preimplantation genetic diagnosis for abnormal chromosome number, or aneuploidy, (now commonly known as PGS - preimplantation genetic screening), we are experiencing a prejudicial mistrust of a clinical approach that is generally accepted to be scientifically and clinically sound. Opponents of PGS frequently criticise its...
20 October 2005 - by BioNews 
Around half of all the eggs produced by both older and younger women could have genetic errors, three new US studies suggest. The findings, reported at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in Montreal, Canada, have lead to calls from some fertility experts to screen...
23 May 2005 - by BioNews 
Testing embryos for chromosomal abnormalities before they are returned to the womb can dramatically improve the 'take home baby rate' for some patients, according to a US fertility doctor. Speaking at the Sixth International Symposium on Preimplantation Genetics, held in London last week, Yury Verlinsky of the Reproductive Genetics Institute...
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